7.3/10
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63 user 23 critic

Tension (1949)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 25 November 1949 (USA)
A meek pharmacist creates an alternate identity under which he plans to murder the bullying liquor salesman who has become his wife's lover.

Director:

John Berry

Writers:

Allen Rivkin (screenplay), John D. Klorer (based on the story by) (as John Klorer)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Richard Basehart ... Warren Quimby
Audrey Totter ... Claire Quimby
Cyd Charisse ... Mary Chanler
Barry Sullivan ... Police Lt. Collier Bonnabel
Lloyd Gough ... Barney Deager
Tom D'Andrea ... Freddie
William Conrad ... Police Lt. Edgar Gonsales
Tito Renaldo Tito Renaldo ... Narco
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Storyline

A mousy drugstore manager turns killer after his conniving wife leaves him for another man. He devises a complex plan, which involves assuming a new identity, to make it look like someone else murdered her new boyfriend. Things take an unexpected turn when someone else commits the murder first and he becomes the prime suspect. Written by Daniel Bubbeo <dbubbeo@cmp.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The hard-hitting story of a man with a plan...REVENGE! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 November 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

O agnostos eihe diplo allothi See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$682,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When Richard Basehart's character of Quimby decides to create another identity for himself, he gets the idea for the name Sothern when he sees a movie fan magazine with Ann Sothern on the cover. "Tension" producer Robert Sisk was then in the process of prepping Shadow on the Wall (1950) to star Miss Sothern in the last film of her long-term MGM contract. See more »

Goofs

When Claire is flirting with Junior and orders dessert, there is an advertisement for Dad's Root Beer on the wall behind her. The word "beer" is marked out. Then when she flirts with a customer, the sign is not marked. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Lt. Collier Bonnabel: I'm Collier Bonnabel. I'm a cop. I'm a Lieutenant Detective in, uh, Homicide. That's a fancy name for murder. We get plenty of tough cases. Solve most of 'em, sure. But how?
[begins to stretch and relax a rubber band]
Lt. Collier Bonnabel: I only know one way, one thing that breaks 'em wide open - tension. I work on people, on suspects. Play up to them. Play up to their strengths, pour it on their weaknesses. Romance 'em or ignore 'em. Kiss 'em. Press 'em. But whatever way, keep stretching them.
[...]
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Connections

Referenced in Hollywood Mouth 2 (2014) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Half of a Good Noir
25 September 2009 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

Putting glasses on the very versatile Richard Basehart and sticking him with a drugstore and a faithless trophy wife (Totter) is almost inspired. His Warren Quimby is such a timid, dependent little guy, and when wife Claire thrusts out her ample chest at any well-dressed man who walks by, we feel for the put-upon pharmacist. He's working day and night trying to please her, but she could care less, especially when she hooks up with the flashy Barney Deager (Gough) and rubs Warren's nose in it. Or rather it's Deager who does the nose-rubbing in the sands of his Malibu beach house. Now Warren may be no Clark Kent, but he's finally had enough humiliation, and there is an alter-ego waiting to break out of that timid soul. The alter-ego is named Paul Southern. He doesn't wear a red cape, but he does sport a very unWarren-like checked jacket and no glasses. More importantly, he's got a plan, a nifty plan for revenge on his two tormentors. In the meantime, he's picked up a new girl (Charisse) who admires the forceful Southern style. So now Quimby-Southern is ready for a new life with his new girl once his nifty revenge plan succeeds.

I just wish the second half succeeded as well as this riveting first half. But the focus shifts abruptly over to wise-guy cop Bonnabel (Sullivan) and we lose the compelling thread of humiliation and revenge. It's almost like the script didn't know what to do with Basehart following the Malibu showdown. The remainder of the film plays out in kind of fuzzy, not very believable fashion. It's like a screenplay in two very unequal chapters. The movie is another of Dore Schary's attempts to bring sunny MGM into the post-war world of noir. Like many of the others, the effort here only partially succeeds. There's some good location photography and an excellent cast. However, director Berry adds little to the erratic script, and I'm tempted to say that neither he nor the studio had a feel for this kind of RKO material. Nonetheless, that compelling first half remains.


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